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I am now in the final week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you all, from the people who have donated small amounts to those who have given large sums. I cannot truly express how much your support means to me.

 

The support of my readers through the years has given me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.

 

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OSIRIS-APEX survives closest fly-by of the Sun on its way to the asteroid Apophis

The asteroid probe OSIRIS-APEX has successfully survived a much closer fly-by of the Sun then it was ever designed to endure, paving the way for its rendezvous with the potentially-dangerous asteroid Apophis in 2029.

The spacecraft’s clean bill of health was due to creative engineering. Engineers placed OSIRIS-APEX in a fixed orientation with respect to the Sun and repositioned one of its two solar arrays to shade the spacecraft’s most sensitive components during the pass.

The spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit around the Sun that brings it to a point closest to the Sun, called a perihelion, about every nine months. To get on a path that will allow it to meet up with its new target Apophis in 2029, the spacecraft’s trajectory includes several perihelions that are closer to the Sun than the spacecraft’s components were originally designed to withstand.

It appears this first fly-by actually improved the spacecraft’s condition. The maneuvers appear to have dislodged a pebble — picked up during the sample grab at the asteroid Bennu — that was interfering with the spacecraft’s spectrometer. The heat from the Sun also apparently fixed about 70% of the hot pixels on one of the spacecraft’s cameras.

“We think the heat from the Sun reset the pixels through annealing,” said Amy Simon, OSIRIS-APEX project scientist, based at NASA Goddard. Annealing is a heat process that can restore function of instruments and is often done intentionally through built-in heaters on some spacecraft.

The next solar fly-by will occur on September 1, 2024.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

One comment

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “The next solar fly-by will occur on September 1, 2024.

    Three months seemed to contradict the quote from the article: “The spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit around the Sun that brings it to a point closest to the Sun, called a perihelion, about every nine months.” until I read the article, which states that perihelion happened back in the beginning of January, which makes it much closer to the stated nine month orbital period.

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